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The view from the Jobg8 Job Board Summit: where job boards stand, and where they’re going

jobg8 job board summitEarlier this year I had the good fortune to attend the JobG8 Job Board Summit for North America. It was an interesting conference, full of useful insights about new and developing technologies, as well as clear-eyed looks at challenges for the industry.

Well, I just returned from the JobG8 Job Board Summit: Europe, and although there were some similarities, it was, as they say, a ‘different kettle of fish‘. Why? To start, the UK/European market is different in fundamental ways from the North American job board market. The most striking contrast is in who actually posts jobs in the UK: 80-85% are posted by recruiting agencies, with the remainder posted by direct employers. In North America, of course, those numbers are reversed. You can imagine that having recruiting agencies as your primary audience would affect the products you offer and how you attack the market. As you move into Europe, you see distinct markets, each with their own challenges. But underneath the differences, there are also similarities – competition from social recruiting, the ongoing challenge of the recession, aggregators, and of course big data.

So here are my thoughts:

  •  LinkedIn is besting job boards in analytics: Isabelle Hung (Alex Mann Solutions) observed that LI pushed past the basic ‘clicks and applies’ data usually provided by job boards, and actually provided real insight into the type of person applying – location, relationships, background, etc. I heard some arguing about this around the room – but honestly, I think she made an excellent point. Job boards can do a better job – they just have to try.
  • Current search technology is inadequate: Jakub Zavrel (Textkernel) observed that the existing search function in the vast majority of job boards relies on two bits of data: location and keyword. As he pointed out in great detail, this simplistic interface fails to take into account the context of a search, the ability of a searcher to define what they are searching for, and what the goals of the search are. Good points all! Jakub says semantic/contextual search offers better results.
  • Business is growing: During a panel discussion that included James Bennett (eFinancialCareers), Lee Biggins (CV Library), Martin Warnes (Reed), and Robbie Cowling (Jobserve), I asked how business was compared to the previous year. Almost everyone said it was up – from 5 to 25% or more.  What seemed less clear (at least to me) was the impact of competing technologies going forward.
  • Conferences can be loud: The networking session that opened the conference was well-attended – and extremely loud. If you’re running the conference, that’s a good thing – it shows that your attendees are finding plenty of things to discuss. Of course, it always helps to have an open bar!

The mechanics of the JobG8 Job Board Summit worked well (easy to hear and see, plenty of well-timed breaks). An impromptu networking session at the end of the conference went so well that we were kicked out by the site managers to make way for their next conference. Conversations continued over drinks and dinner.

In other words, if you go to the JobG8 Job Board Summit, be prepared to meet interesting people, hear useful stuff, and talk.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Hi Jeff, thanks for the update…would have loved to make it, but couldn’t pull it off!

    To continue your point that the market is different in “fundamental ways”…one of the biggest differences I have seen between US job boards and aggregators and our European counterparts is that there seems more reticence to collaborate with competitors. Perhaps US-based online sourcing sites have been more conditioned to collaborate with each other because of the long-term impact of IAEWS? I think that the US market promotes more of a spirit of “coopetition” to advance each party’s goals, whether that is new member acquisition, traffic, co-marketing or data sharing.
    I speculate that in 2014, especially with JobG8’s efforts to provide an additional outlet for networking and sharing in our industry, the cultural divide across the pond will continue to diminish. I think we’ll see some of the larger European-based aggregators and job sites continue to emulate the behaviors and practices of US properties, and there will be more global cooperation and partnership to allow us all to work more closely together.

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